I have just read the Centre for Public Scrutiny report:
“Change at the Council/ Independent Review of Governance for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea”.
Whilst there are some welcome suggestions I, and a number of others were appalled to read the paragraphs below from page 18 of the report LINK
“We observed a Planning Applications Committee and thought this showed the Council at its best when it comes to involving residents in meetings.
While we have heard people question the length of time allowed for residents to make presentations, the small size of the meeting, the opportunity
for residents to sit at the table and clarity in understanding the process, all suggest good practice that could be used in other council meetings.
“We also heard that, before the Grenfell disaster, some of the best moments at council meetings had been the result of public petitions, and some of
the better scrutiny meetings had been those that heard directly from the public – although we know that part of a positive experience for the public
rests on getting a response to those contributions at the meeting ………….We also observed the public being invited to sit at the table and discuss planning
applications with councillors, and we felt this worked effectively. The challenge for the Council, therefore, is to embed this good practice”
This may be an accurate account based on the observation of a single meeting, presumably one at which the Councillors were aware that they were being “scrutinised “but, as a resident, and from my own observation of planning meetings at RBKC, this is most certainly not the norm.
I have witnessed members of the public being barked at, bullied and shouted down during planning meetings ( Cllr Warwick )
There were furtive and secretive non “consultations” with the community over the cinema site.
Cllr Moylan thought it was ok to accept regular hospitality from his friend, Peter Bingle, of Terrapin Communications , who act for the developer of the cinema site and then, on 28th May 2016 , while one of the ACV cases was being heard, he goes on national television to call the cinema “a flea pit” and that it “should be demolished.”
Siding with the developer’s agents with whom he sups and ignoring a petition of 30,000 (equivalent to half the adult population of the borough) to save a much loved and historically significant landmark is an insult to the democratic process.
In addition, the “petitions” that are mentioned in this report were circulated by members of the community to force extraordinary general meetings of the council out of sheer frustration by the community at being ignored during the planning process most recently :
- North Kensington Public Library
- Save The Kensington Odeon
The CPS needs to add to your list of recommendations that there should be a basic code of Conduct for Councillors
which should include :
- Not bullying, barking down and ignoring residents
- No accepting hospitality from developers or their agents or having private meetings with them without council officers present.
I and others brought these concerns up at one of the so called consultation meetings by the Centre for Public Scrutiny but perhaps these were inconvenient truths
that is was thought better not to mention in this report ?